Ukrainian crisis: the 15th of December

Ukrainian crisis: the 15th of December
Фото: Макс Левин
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The events currently unfolding in Ukraine

LB.ua chronicles the latest events in Ukraine in English for foreign readers.

The street protests in Ukraine started after the November 21st decision by President Viktor Yanukovich - seeking the best possible deal for Ukraine to stave off bankruptcy - to walk away from a trade pact with Europe at the last minute and seek closer ties with Russia.

Since then the protest movement has grown in size and vehemence, bringing tens of thousands of Ukrainians onto the streets in a series of rallies, becoming an all-out protest against Viktor Yanukovich and his cabinet.

On November 30th the protest turned violent, when police used force against the pro-Europe demonstrators in Kyiv. Police violence shocked Ukrainians, setting a match to deep-seated anger over corruption and sleaze of the Ukrainian government.

Talks between the government and the opposition on Friday appeared to lead nowhere.

On Saturday, December 14th, thousands of Yanukovich supporters staged a rival anti-Maidan rally in Kyiv, many bused in from Donetsk and other cities in eastern Ukraine, that is the traditional stronghold of the president's Party of Regions.

In an attempt to defuse weeks of unrest, Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday dismissed the head of Kyiv's state administration Aleksandr Popov and a national security aide Vladimir Sivkovich over the violence on November 30, in which riot police used batons and stun grenades to disperse the crowd at the Maidan.

Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said two more police officials involved that night were under investigation and the then-head and a deputy head of the Kyiv police involved that night were suspected of abuse of power.

The rival demonstrations staged in Kyiv are separated only by a line of riot police, and such proximity raises fears of fresh violence.

8:00. While both supporters and opponents of Ukrainian President hold rival protests, Ukraine holds vote on re-election of deputies of the Verkhovna Rada in single-member electoral districts number 94, 132, 194, 197 and 223. There are 151 participating candidates.

Central election commission (CEC) of Ukraine is to introduce the results of elections in single-member districts until the 30th of December. CEC registered 385 official observers from foreign states and international organizations, including the 11 countries to observe the by-election in five districts.

12:35.The European Union said on Sunday it was putting on hold work with Ukraine on a trade and cooperation agreement, saying the arguments being made by the Ukrainian government had "no grounds in reality".

EU enlargement chief Stefan Fuele said on Twitter that he had told Ukraine's first deputy prime minister Sergey Arbuzov last week that further discussion on the trade agreement was conditional on a clear commitment by Kyiv to sign it, but since then he had not heard back from the Ukraine government.

13:11. The opposition has gathered 182 signatures in support for the consideration of the resignation of Ukraine´s Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov, said the leader of the opposition party "Svoboda" Oleg Tyagnibok in his comment to LB.ua.

He said that in this matter the opposition counts on the signatures from the members of The Communist Party of Ukraine and some communists were already among the signatories.

The opposition parties "Batkivshchyna", "Svoboda" and "UDAR" expect to collect 210 signatures considering the votes of all the communists (31 deputies). The remaining 16 signatures needed to make the decision for consideration by the Verkhovna Rada are expected to be collected from the parliamentary majority of the Party of Regions.

13:50. Former Home Secretary Yuriy Lutsenko, who supports the opposition, said that a new parliamentary majority will be created in the Verkhovna Rada on Monday, the 16th of December.

13:54. U.S. Republican Senator John McCain and democrat Chris Murphy are addressing the protesters at the Maidan.

"Stay warm and keep on fighting" - said Senator Murphy, addressing Ukrainians. - "We will return to the Maidan to celebrate the fact that Ukraine is with the EU and the U.S."

McCain also said that Ukraine will make Europe a better place.

14:13. The opposition demands resignation of Andriy Klyuyev, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, earlier appointed by the President of Ukraine to ensure co-ordination of activities of the central executive authorities in the field of European integration of Ukraine and interaction with EU institutions.

14:25. National veche on the Maidan adopted two resolutions: on joining the Customs Union and on release of the former prime minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko. The first resolution bans Viktor Yanukovich to sign an agreement on Ukraine's accession to the Customs Union. The second one demands Yanukovich to release all the political prisoners, including Tymoshenko.

15:00. U.S. Republican Senator John McCain said Washington may impose sanctions against the Ukrainian authorities if force is used against Evromaidan protesters once again.

"Americans will demand this from us", he said at a press conference in Kyiv.

The Senator also said there can be some confusion about the work on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement being put on hold.

15:34. Deputy chairman of "Batkivshchyna" Alexander Turchinov called on the Maidan protesters to divide in three columns and leave the square to picket the buildings of the Ministry of Interior, Security Service of Ukraine and the Central Election Commission.

15:48. Carl Bildt, Sweden's foreign minister since 2006, who was prime minister from 1991 to 1994, when he negotiated Sweden's EU accession, wrote in his Twitter: "The door is wide open for Ukraine to sign association and free trade agreement with EU. It’s ready. Any time".

16:10. The opposition is to hold the next National veche on December 17.

16:18. Ukrainian media report that more than 100 deputies from the ruling Party of Regions are ready to back the resignation of Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov.

16:40. The chairmen of the Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) have received threats via SMS. One of such messages says: "We know everything about you! If there are any falsifications, there will be reaction!".

16:50. Viktor Yanukovich's supporters start to disperse after the rally.

17:02. Ukrainian authorities have assured the American senators they won´t use force against peaceful demonstrators.

17:50. Chairman of the "Batkivshchyna" faction Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised to dismiss Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov and to provide him with a minimal pension of 1124 hryvnia (nearly $150).

18:01. Eurodeputy Rebecca Harms, co-president of the The Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European parliament, expressed support for the Maidan protesters, addressing them from the stage in Independence Square in Ukrainian capital. Earlier on Sunday she arrived to Kyiv to discuss the situation in Ukraine with all the parties of the conflict. She has already met with the opposition leaders.

18:30. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkyavichus said that the European Union held work on the EU-Ukraine trade agreement because of the position of President Viktor Yanukovich.

"Who put on hold talks on implementing #EU-UKR #AA? Need clarity from #Ukraine whos President said it hurts national interests", he wrote in his Twitter.

Read next: Ukrainian crisis: the 16th of December

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